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Boy on the Rocks

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Boy on the Rocks by Henri Rousseau
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Artist: Henri Rousseau    Image Code: V03776

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  • Artist: Henri Rousseau

    Henri Rousseau (May 21, 1844-September 2, 1910), a self-taught painter, was part of the French Post-Impressionist movement. Inspired by his everyday surroundings, he was often ridiculed by his contemporaries, but is now accepted as a singular talent. Rousseau is most well-known for his exotic jungle scenes, despite the fact that he never left his home country of France. He was heavily influenced by painters such as Cezanne and Gauguin, who were leading the way in the Primitivist movement. Born in Laval in the Loire Valley, Rousseau worked as a toll collector for most of his life, earning him the nickname “Le Douanier” (meaning, “the customs officer”) from his contemporaries. Though he was otherwise employed, Rousseau’s job allowed him to pursue his passion for painting in his off-hours, eventually allowing him to retire at age 49 to paint full-time. Later in life, Rousseau earned the admiration of fellow artists such as Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinksy, and has since been incorporated in the fin-de-siècle artistic canon. 

    View all of Henri Rousseau's work.

  • Artwork Details

    The work of French artist Henri Rousseau is often described as mysterious and dreamlike, and his 1895-1897 painting Boy on the Rocks certainly fits the bill. A Post-Impressionist working in Paris, Rousseau worked as a toll collector and was often inspired by his everyday surroundings, though he often incorporated a sublime element into his compositions. Known as a naive painter, Rousseau's work, such as Boy on the Rocks, is considered to be influential in the birth of the Surrealist movement, as can be seen by the position and scale of the figure in the fantastical landscape. The boy's calm, dreamy demeanor and the soft colors used in the composition create a sense of surreal ease. Though Rousseau was often ridiculed by his contemporaries, his position in art history is unquestionable.